Kajagoogoo: ‘Mad World’ Interviews and New 80’s Book
Today’s entry into the KajaFax newsfeed is a change to what was to be our scheduled article. In what we think is a UK exclusive, we can now reveal full details of a new book release featuring Kajagoogoo that is sure to excite all fans of the band and become the definitive reference source for fans of 80s pop. With exclusive interviews with both Limahl and Nick Beggs, ‘Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s’, is a whopping 320 pages of all that is worthy in 1980’s music. KajaFax had the heads-up on this some months ago, but it is only now that we have all the details at our disposal and can share them with you.
“‘Mad World’ is a highly entertaining and completely original oral history that celebrates new wave through all-new interviews with 35 of the most notable artists of the period, alongside a parade of vintage photographs. The stars of the decade discuss their breakthrough songs, as well as their histories and place in the scene, ultimately painting a vivid picture of this exciting, genre-bending, idiosyncratic time. Participants include: Duran Duran, New Order, Kajagoogoo, Tears for Fears, Adam and the Ants, Depeche Mode, INXS, Simple Minds, Soft Cell, A-ha, Berlin, Psychedelic Furs, Joy Division, ABC, Echo and the Bunnymen, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and more!”
This is a must have acquisition for any fan of Kajagoogoo and Limahl, and is destined to become an essential purchase for anybody with an interest in 80’s culture or indeed 80s subculture. Available via Amazon pre-order, the book is released in the US on April 15th, with a UK release to follow shortly after.
The title can also be pre-ordered from www.madworldbook.com.
To pre-order from Amazon US, click the below logo:
and from Amazon UK, click here:
Not to miss out on an opportunity, team KajaFax has been in contact with Jonathan Bernstein, one of the authors, who kindly took the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about the book.
KF: Thanks for agreeing to speak to us Jonathan and welcome to KajaFax!
JB: You’re welcome!
KF: So, I guess my first question is an obvious one, so lets get started!
There are many books on the subject of 1980’s music, some good and some not so good. What inspired you to write another on the subject of 80’s pop, and how many of those books, if any, did you read during your research?
JB: This has been an itch Lori and I have wanted to scratch for a very long time. We’re both fans of the era. She’s a bit more psychotically obsessed than me. The only eighties book I would class as an inspiration is Dave Rimmer’s “Like Punk Never Happened” which is real from-the-trenches reporting.
KF: How long has the project taken from beginning to end, which interviewee took the longest to track down, and which (if any) did you feel were reluctant to ‘open up’?
JB: It feels like several eternities but it started in earnest late summer 2012. Probably Nile Rodgers, whose commentary we used on the Duran Duran, INXS and Thompson Twins chapters, was the hardest to get because of his endless schedule. The two toughest nuts to crack ended up not making the book. One was Toni Basil, with whom I got off on the wrong foot and ended up never getting back on the right foot. Every thing I said succeeded in pissing her off more than she was already pissed off. The nice posh lady from The Flying Lizards was charming but it was obvious that being in the band was like a holiday she took when she was fifteen that I was asking her to go into detail about.
KF: The book seems to have taken you down a different path than what has traditionally become the norm, and there are several artists mentioned in the sleeve notes that from a British viewpoint are unusual but very interesting and welcome choices. How did you decide on which artists to approach?
JB: I’m Scottish and middle-aged. Lori is American and a decade younger. We experienced the eighties in similar but also completely different ways. Hence, the use of the term New Wave, which is meaningless but also covers what was a very varied, very fast-moving few years. It wasn’t just synth-pop, it wasn’t just new romantic, it wasn’t just post-punk, it wasn’t just British, it wasn’t just American. We tried to make the list of artists as varied as possible, going from one-hit wonders to people with still-thriving careers. In terms of the artists that might seem unusual from a British viewpoint, I’m guessing you’re referring to The Waitresses and Animotion. The first are there because they’re an example of the incredible longevity that songs in the eighties–even those that weren’t huge hits– still enjoy. Animotion is more of a cautionary tale of what happens at the end of the era when the industry takes control.
KF: Who was your favourite interviewee and why?
JB: Without pandering to your particular constituency, Limahl was great, very open and candid. I also enjoyed talking to Martin Fry from ABC, Midge Ure, Martyn Ware from Heaven 17, Jim Kerr from Simple Minds, Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo and Kim Wilde. I pretty much had a good experience with everyone apart from Toni Basil and that was probably my fault.
KF: Did anybody refuse to be interviewed, or was there anybody that you were unable to make contact with?
JB: Scritti Politti and Japan were long shots that didn’t pan out. M, of “Pop Muzik” fame never replied to emails. Bananarama seemed like it was going to happen but didn’t. We were hoping for Frankie Goes To Hollywood. But that just means Book Two, when it happens, is going to be awesome.
KF: Moving on to Kajagoogoo, how open did you find Nick Beggs to be about the events surrounding Kajagoogoo’s rise to fame and premature fragmentation in the 1980’s? Were there any questions that you felt he was reluctant to answer?
JB: It didn’t seem like it was his favourite subject. He wasn’t averse to answering any questions, though.
KF: Readers of the advance copy have commented on how compelling and entertaining Limahl’s contribution is. Team KajaFax know just how approachable Limahl is, and how much love he has for Kajagoogoo and its music. Given the plethora of things written in the press over the years about the reasons for the band’s split, how did Limahl’s interview compare with your expectations, and did he throw you any surprises in his answers?
JB: In the spirit of honesty, I did not go into this interview as a Kajagoogoo fan, nor did I present myself as such. However, I found him to be a fascinating and unexpectedly unguarded interviewee, whether he was talking about his own childhood, the band’s formative years, his sexuality, the group’s dissolution or his own financial situation. In terms of the band’s breakup, there’s clearly a disconnect between Limahl and Nick Beggs. Beggs thinks Limahl was impossible to work with. Limahl feels he was blindsided by the rest of the band. You’ve probably heard both sides of this story a hundred times but they were new to me.
KF: Kajagoogoo have a loyal and dedicated fan base who were delighted when in 2008 the full band reunited. Did either Nick or Limahl make reference to any recent solo projects or hint at any future Kajagoogoo activity?
JB: I did not get the impression time has healed the wounds…..
A massive thank you goes out to Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein for allowing KajaFax to play a tiny part in the project as well as agreeing to be interviewed for the site. A final thank you goes of course to Limahl and Nick, who have not only contributed to this fabulous book, but also helped bring this KajaFax exclusive interview to fruition.
Thank you for visiting KajaFax, the premier Kajagoogoo site on the internet!